Leans on everything-as-code to stay slim.

Qantas runs cloud at scale with platform team of just 12


Qantas is using infrastructure-as-code and operations-as-code to run at scale in the cloud with a core platform team of just 12.

The airline used the recent AWS Summit in Sydney to reveal some of the practices it has put in place over the five years it has been running cloud-based workloads, and the results that has helped it to reach.

“At any one time at Qantas, we’re running about 4000 instances and that’s a mixture of multiple instance types and multiple operating system types,” Qantas cloud services lead Steven Tyson said.

“To date, we’ve launched about 2.7 million instances and we’ve got a significant spend across hundreds of accounts.” 

Tyson said Qantas used a blue-green architectural approach to get code changes into production. 

Under a blue-green model, the production environment is cloned. Live traffic runs through one environment while changes are introduced to the other, and then traffic is cut back across.

“We perform on average 5500 blue-green releases a month over about 250 applications,” Tyson said.

“All deployments are done leveraging pure infrastructure-as-code, and we have a custom in-house abstraction layer which looks after the DNS switch to do the blue-green for us.”

The numbers themselves provide useful context around how much Qantas has been able to achieve with a small cloud platform team.

The cloud environment is known internally as QCP – Qantas Cloud Platform.

Qantas used the same conference to announce plans to migrate workloads currently run on mainframe and midrange infrastructure into the cloud by 2021 – meaning the QCP team’s workload isn’t likely to decrease any time soon.

“At 12 people, looking after such a large cloud fleet is no mean feat,” Tyson said. “We do that with some really strong practices in infrastructure-as-code, and also operations-as-code.”

Specifically, Tyson cited two key factors in Qantas’ operational success in the cloud to date.

“Qantas do cloud at a massive scale and there are two things they’ve done to be so successful with such a small team,” he said.

“One, they’ve democratised the use of cloud within Qantas for application owners and developers to deploy their own applications when they want, and two, they’ve ensured that 100 percent of all deployments are done leveraging declarative infrastructure-as-code.

“Everything goes through a CI/CD pipeline and we ensure that all environments are exactly the same.”

In instances where Qantas ran into “issues” scaling its use of AWS, Tyson said that an AWS service called Systems Manager had proven useful.

Systems Manager could help companies look after large and complex cloud fleets by pooling resource and application management information in a single place, according to AWS.

“Before Systems Manager, we had no real way to govern who was doing what in our EC2 fleet,” Tyson said.

Read the full story on itNews.

View Alan Joyce’s keynote presentation and Qantas’ informative session at AWS Summit, which are both available on AWS Summit on-demand.

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